Super Bowl XLII is finally in the books after the NFL’s seemingly interminable but (from a marketing standpoint) brilliant two-week hype-fest.
My wife (bless her heart) gave up on the Giants after their defensive line seemed to get gassed midway through the 4th quarter and let Tom Terrific march the New England Patriots down the field for the go-ahead touchdown. This had been their motif in tough games all season. Perhaps they learned it from Ali-Foreman. Against high-quality opponents (Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Dallas, even Baltimore, and yes, the Giants), the Patriots seemed to toy with their prey, leaving the score close until finally, midway through the 4th quarter, they flipped the switch and turned into a transcendant offensive team, unstoppable when it mattered most, delivering a colossal knockout punch.
It happened again…BUT…
This time, they brawled with a brawler. The New York Football Giants clobbered Tom Brady all night, embarrassing one of the finest offensive lines this reporter has ever seen. The G-Men strangled the Patriots’ running game (which they never cared about anyway) and beat Brady out of his helmet. BUT…
Under three minutes to go, and Little Bro has the football universe on his shoulders. Show of hands now, whose gut WASN’T convinced that this was the moment that Eli Manning returned to mid-season form? As BADLY as I wanted my Giants to win that game and pay New England back for the arrogance of Red Sox Nation (yes, I know, but at least Yankees fans don’t imagine that they are their own political body!), I was terrified for the Mannings — all the hope and passion and faith that the Giants franchise had placed in Eli, all the brutally cruel focus of the New York media, came down to this one moment in his life.
Was he perfect? Far from it. This drive would not resemble a Montana drive, a Brady drive, even a Big Brother drive. Eli doesn’t play like those guys. Eli plays like Brett Favre and Fran Tarkenton and, yes, like his dad.
The Great Escape? The Great Catch? Both of those led to the moment when Eli did what the Mannings do best: read defenses and think telepathically with their best receiver. New England blitzes, Eli reads it, doesn’t have to signal because Plaxico Burress already sees it too, beats his man after Eli has already thrown the ball, and the rest is history.
On a related note, what was your favorite commercial?
My two were: Charlie Brown beating Stevie and Underdog for the Coke; and the Black Widow spider devouring the Jiminy Cricket clone. How about you?